Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Make my day

with 57 comments

I haven’t shown a photograph of a dayflower (Commelina erecta) here since 2012. Today’s picture is from Allen Park on May 15th. You could say figuratively that the two tiny flies on the dayflower made my day flower.


What doesn’t make my day flower is the craziness that descended upon many American colleges and universities in recent years. You may or may not have heard about something called micro-aggressions. Those are innocuous or even traditionally aspirational statements that now upset the permanently distraught inmates who run academia. Here are examples of statements now considered so terrible that if you utter them you’ll be branded a bigot and get reported to a “bias response team“:

America is a land of opportunity.

People are likely to succeed if they work hard.

When there’s a job opening, the most qualified person should get the job.

Where are you from?

There’s only one race, the human race.

All lives matter.

That last sentiment has recently gotten person after person after person after person fired from or forced out of their jobs. Purges like those show how microaggressions have led to megasuppressions that have metastasized out of academia and into many other institutions.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 27, 2021 at 4:42 AM

57 Responses

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  1. stellar blues … and details 💙☺️👌sending joy hedy 💫

    sloppy buddhist

    June 27, 2021 at 4:59 AM

  2. That’s quite a blue flower. Are flies attracted to blue? I noticed my blue-green table was covered in them yesterday.


    June 27, 2021 at 5:50 AM

    • You raise a question I don’t know the answer to. The fact that I’ve seen tiny flies on flowers of many colors seems evidence that blue holds no special attraction, but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that certain species of flies find blue especially attractive. I’ve also read that many insects see colors differently from the way we do, so that this blue flower might not appear blue to them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 27, 2021 at 8:07 AM

  3. Beautiful. I really like the blue tones of the blossom.


    June 27, 2021 at 6:27 AM

  4. That is a vibrant blue! I have observed our deer eating this wildflower. It grows everywhere around here.

    Your links provided some interesting reading this morning. Just when I think things can’t get even more ridiculous – I am sure my jaw dropped and my eyes rolled a few times as I read the examples in the article.


    June 27, 2021 at 7:02 AM

    • Ah, I just finished typing “a rich blue” in response to the previous comment and now here you are speaking of “a vibrant blue!”

      An increasing number of people in our country have gone delusional.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 27, 2021 at 8:13 AM

  5. i love the blue and the fly accents


    June 27, 2021 at 7:42 AM

  6. A blue flower was a central symbol of inspiration for the Romanticism movement. When I viewed your photo of the dayflower, I could understand why the blue flower inspired so many poems and stories of that particular period.

    Peter Klopp

    June 27, 2021 at 8:00 AM

  7. Oh my gosh, that blue is so vivid and lovely. The yellow stamens and the fly’s red eyes really pop!


    June 27, 2021 at 8:20 AM

  8. We have dayflowers in our yard but they are not native to our location.

    Steve Gingold

    June 27, 2021 at 8:32 AM

  9. Nice


    June 27, 2021 at 8:51 AM

  10. This is a flower I can count on seeing nearly everywhere I go. I’ve found it in the Big Thicket, along the shoreline in Palacios, and around Kerrville. Oddly, I don’t have many photos of it, despite its attractiveness. Perhaps its abundance and predictability have kept me from giving it the attention it deserves. Just once, I found Tinantia anomala, or false dayflower, also known as widow’s tears. I suspect I’ve confused it with this flower in the past, assuming I was looking at C. erecta.

    The doubled consonant in this one’s name reminds me: it took me until last night to spot the error in the title of my current post at The Task at Hand. Perhaps you saw that I’d let “Stilll Working…” slip by me, and didn’t mention it. No one else mentioned it, either; it’s a fun reminder that with words and with flowers, sometimes we see what we expect to see.


    June 27, 2021 at 9:17 AM

    • Once you get more familiar with Tinantia anomala and Commelina erect, I don’t think you’ll ever confuse one for the other, as the configurations of some of their parts are different, as are the colors of the flowers. A bunch of Tinantia anomala came up spontaneously in our yard this year, which made me happy. I wish we could come up with—and get people to adopt—a more positive name than “false dayflower.”

      No, I hadn’t noticed your triple l; as you said, we often see what we expect to see.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 27, 2021 at 9:31 AM

    • I did notice the extra l in your title Stilll Working but I thought you were having a bit of fun in the way that some people sometimes write lonnnnnnnng as a playful way to emphasize how long the long is. Although I must say that sort of silliness is not your style, Linda, but then you don’t usually make any mistakes either.


      July 3, 2021 at 7:24 AM

      • I fight constantly against errors with doubled consonants: putting two where one is needed, or one instead of two. This is the first time I remember tripling one, but I think this was simply over-eager fingers rather than my normal confusion. If it weren’t for occasional notes from Steve, you’d see the errors more often. For whatever reason, I can read right past them, even with multiple proof-reads.


        July 3, 2021 at 7:38 AM

        • So multiple reads are a singular pastime of yours.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 3, 2021 at 8:27 AM

        • I have an excellent ability to read over errors after multiple proof-reads!


          July 3, 2021 at 8:31 AM

          • We all do that at least occasionally. That’s why writers have outside editors. I’m usually good at picking up other people’s errors. I’ve often had the experience at a museum of finding a mistake in the explanatory text that accompanies a work on display. In one that I remember, the year the artist supposedly died was before the artist’s year of birth.

            Steve Schwartzman

            July 3, 2021 at 8:58 AM

  11. The vivid blue of day flower is hard to beat, the visiting flies add a lot to the image. The day flower I see up here is tiny – is this flower an inch across?


    June 27, 2021 at 12:50 PM

    • Yes, an inch across about does it. It was the two flies that caught my attention more than the flower that had at first drawn me in.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 27, 2021 at 1:10 PM

  12. I have all three species of Commelina mentioned. In one location, C. communis and C. erecta are in competition and their open and closed bracts are opposite of what they are supposed to be. In areas where they are either one species or the other, they are normal. This year, I have noticed dayflowers in other areas here and there around the edges of where I mow the yard but I haven’t taken the time to identify what species they are. C. erecta seems to be the most prolific, and C. diffusa the least. They are great wildflowers for sure! Thanks for sharing!

    The Belmont Rooster

    June 27, 2021 at 1:25 PM

    • You’re welcome. Your comment sent me looking at botanist Bill Carr’s plant list for Travis County, where Austin is. I learned that we have two varieties of Commelina erecta: var. erecta and var. angustifolia. That complicates things, as I don’t know which one today’s photograph shows, nor more generally how to tell the two varieties apart. At least we don’t have Commelina communis, so I don’t have to worry about confusing it with the natives. Good luck sorting out your dayflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 27, 2021 at 2:58 PM

      • Well, according to Plants of the World Online, C. erecta var. angustifolia is a synonym of C. erecta subsp. erecta. Next week it may be different. 🙂 They show the other two infraspecific names of C. erecta as native to a small area in Africa. Names have changed and moved around a bit over the past few years it is hard to keep up with. Even when names change with an update, it doesn’t mean it will stick. If I have an issue, I ask the editor at Kew. Using current APG rules, I think a lot of infraspecific names are now synonyms. Of course, we don’t have to agree on our own websites and can use whatever name we choose as long as it was validly published. 🙂 Sometimes I include the former infraspecific name in parentheses because it does further identify the species. I sometimes get a little sarcastic over the whole deal as well. I am not a botanist or horticulturalist, so what do I know anyway. 🙂 I did check the stray Commelina colonies and they turned out to be C. communis.

        The Belmont Rooster

        June 27, 2021 at 3:42 PM

        • Your “next week it may be different” expresses the frustration I think many of us would-be identifiers feel. My fallback position has long been that I’m first and foremost a photographer, not a biologist. I hope that cuts me some slack.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 27, 2021 at 4:17 PM

  13. Really? I find some of those offensive. Some might find others offensive. The third one is hooey. In my industry, we REGULARLY discriminate against Americans, or really anyone who is not Mexican. It is weird. I am pleased to not be affiliated with that anymore, although I find that Mexican people are still most qualified for many of the jobs, and willing to do work that others are not so interested in.
    Where are you from? I get that one a lot, which makes sense, since native people are so rare here. I also get spoken to in Spanish by stoopid white people trying too hard to be PC.
    There is a song that sometimes comes on the radio that I find to be extremely offensive. It is about how ‘We are all immigrants’. Well, my ancestors have been here for many generations. I was born just a few miles away. I lived away from here only for a few years while in college, and about two and a half months while in Oklahoma. An immigrant is someone who immigrated from somewhere else. I never did that. Those who believe that we are all immigrants would insist that I am from Italy. I have never been closer to Italy than North Fourteenth Street. Seriously, I am NOT Italian. I am merely of Italian descent. My distant ancestors were immigrants, but I am not.


    June 28, 2021 at 1:40 AM

    • Because of my interest in language, I’ve often asked people with an accent where they’re from. I’ve learned things about languages and cultures that way. For example, in the 1980s, it dawned on me that Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher, couldn’t have had the name Confucius, which is a Latinization/Anglicization of his real name, so I asked someone from China to tell me what Confucius’s actual name in Chinese is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2021 at 6:00 AM

      • You could likely tell that I am a native of the western Santa Clara Valley with that ‘Val’ accent from the mid 1980s. While in school, stoopid white kids (after determining that I am not of Mexican descent) sometimes asked me if I knew anyone in the Mafia. I sometimes told them that I did, but now they know too much. Most of the time, I just gave them the blank stoooooopid glare, as if they should know that someone who was affiliated with the Mafia would not talk about it with a stoopid white kid. Brent would laugh. Similar stooopid white kids sometimes asked Brent, with a fake and contrived Ebonic accent (because we all know that is what ALL black people understand), how the ‘team’ was doing (because all black people in college are there for some sort of athletic team). Of course, I would laugh.


        June 28, 2021 at 5:48 PM

  14. That is one stunning image, Steve!

    Peter Hillman

    June 28, 2021 at 5:46 AM

  15. Great shot Steve .. divine blue


    June 29, 2021 at 2:05 PM

    • For once it wasn’t a clear sky that provided the blue, as has so often been the case in my pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2021 at 2:37 PM

  16. I love that you captured the two flies together. And blue is such an incredible color in nature, it really stands out. Your talk on academia is troubling, though. I’ve heard similar said elsewhere and it does concern me about the future (and the present for that matter). I do believe that often these sorts of thoughts and views follow a wave pattern and I’m hopeful we’re simply at a low point in the wave and that soon folks will start waking up and we’ll begin moving back to a more balanced point on the wave, at least on average. But only time will tell. For now it seems I should just lock myself away in a closet and not speak to anyone about anything for fear of unintentionally offending or ridiculing.

    Todd Henson

    June 30, 2021 at 7:01 AM

    • Even with one tiny subject it’s hard enough to get important parts in focus. With two tiny subjects, distributing the focus between them is often a real chore. That’s why I was pleased to get the probosci of both flies in pretty good focus. As for the color, I get the impression that this hue of blue isn’t all that common among flowers, which makes it all the more valuable.

      As for other topic, I understand the temptation to lock yourself away in a closet; it’s certainly easier on the nervous system. For my first nine years of posting here I looked on this blog as a refuge from worldly chaos. But there’s also a danger in not engaging. Many Jews in Germany in the 1930s thought Hitler was an aberration and they could wait for his movement to pass and for things to return to normal. Look where that got them. Lately I’ve taken to heart this sentiment from the 1867 inaugural address that John Stuart Mill gave at the University of St. Andrew:

      “Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2021 at 7:40 AM

  17. Pretty shade of blue and I like the detail and color in the insect on the left. 🙂


    June 30, 2021 at 11:49 AM

  18. That is a beautiful dayflower! We had many of these about when I was growing up, and I remember these beautiful intense blue faces. I had a big conch shell, put dirt in it, and grew one of these in the window one summer, way back when. I haven’t seen any here in my area.

    Lavinia Ross

    July 2, 2021 at 9:12 AM

  19. […] false dayflower alerts you that this isn’t the plain old dayflower, Commelina erecta, that you recently saw here and that’s in the same botanical family. The false may be helpful, but I still wish Tinantia […]

  20. Is it okay to have a blue flower bias? I do. This one is beautiful. I find that the blue or blue toned flowers in my garden are very popular with bees. Hover flies seem to prefer yellow. Blow flies and ordinary flies just like me whatever colour I am wearing.


    July 3, 2021 at 7:32 AM

    • We like you whatever color you’re wearing, too.
      I see no impediment to having a thing for blue flowers. You could even slightly alter the words a song by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson, changing from Blue Bayou to Blue Bias.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2021 at 8:34 AM

  21. […] Fact” category, the species for that month will be Commelina erecta, the dayflower, which you saw here on June 27th. I’d also shown a few dayflower pictures here years ago, so I quickly searched back through […]

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